Marvel’s latest film, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, is expected to beat Black Widow at the box office, becoming the highest-grossing film of 2021 domestically. Both Marvel movies premiered this summer after being constantly delayed due to the pandemic. However, both had drastically different methods of distribution. Black Widow premiered in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access for $30 while Shang-Chi remains exclusive to theaters.
Despite the ongoing pandemic and the surge of the delta variant of COVID-19, Shang-Chi has done remarkably well at the box office. Shang-Chi garnered $90 million in its opening weekend, shattering Labor Day records, and has remained at the top of the box office since.
According to Deadline, Shang-Chi is expected to pass Black Widow this weekend. Black Widow has currently grossed $183.4 million domestically, and Shang-Chi is expected to pass it with a projection of $195.2 million by the end of this weekend.
One of the main reasons for Shang-Chi’s strong legs at the box office is its theatrical exclusivity. Black Widow had an incredibly strong start at the box office but suffered a 67.8% drop in its second weekend. Shang-Chi only had a 54% increase in its second weekend. According to Screenrant, many theater owners blame this on Disney’s decision to place it on streaming at the same time. Scarlett Johansson is currently suing Disney over their decision to place it on Disney+.
While Marvel’s Shang-Chi is the current king of the domestic box office, it will have plenty of challengers for the rest of 2021. October has several upcoming threats including Venom: Let There Be Carnage, No Time to Die, and Dune. Marvel also still has two more films set for this year: Eternals and Spiderman: No Way Home. Shang-Chi is at the top of the mountain for the moment, but who knows how long that will last.